ADMINISTRATORS have postponed a meeting that would have decided the future of Bendigo's goldfields with less than 24-hours notice, after a series of dramatic developments connected with collapsed mining entity Kralcopic.
It came as the group's owners GBM Gold was preparing to pitch a deed of company arrangement with the backing of Kralcopic's administrators.
Creditors would have voted on the proposal on Thursday morning but will now have to wait another 10 days as administrators grapple with a rapidly changing landscape.
The Bendigo Advertiser has sighted a document outlining the reasons administrators are delaying.
They include recent decisions by two creditors to increase the amount of money they are claiming for, a question about one of Kralcopic's employment entitlements and new documents filed with the Supreme Court about the status of land.
It is unclear how the delay will affect GBM Gold's hopes to swoop in and take over its embattled subsidiary, which went into voluntary administration last month after losing a court case and being locked out of key Bendigo mining sites.
But GBM Gold was already at risk of being embroiled in the fallout of Kralcopic's collapse last March as a number of its own creditors press for their own debts to be repaid.
Adding to the pressure, a rival consortium has told creditors it has its own plans, including for the Swan Decline, an 18-km long tunnel th at is the last remaining portal to the Bendigo goldfield.
Administrators have recommended creditors support GBM Gold's option.
Under that potential deed, GBM Gold would pay $100,000 upfront, followed within ninety days by another $550,000 under the terms of the deal drafted by the company's lawyers.
The Bendigo Advertiser is yet to establish why the payments would need to be made in two instalments.
The proposed deed requires the company create a fund for "all priority and unsecured creditors".
The deed specifically mentions Unity Mining, the company that handed Kralcopic the licences to work a number of Bendigo sites and even loaned it regulatory fees in the form of bonds.
The Advertiser is yet to establish how GBM Gold would raise the money needed to pay off its debts, or whether it has done so already.
But a major test of the company's capacity may already be under way.
The Advertiser understands several significant GBM Gold creditors are demanding they be paid by Friday.
Another told the Advertiser it had considered Thursday's meeting to be a deadline for payment, and that non-payment before then could signify the company's demise.
It said it has issued a statutory demand for payment and is prepared to escalate that in a push for GBM Gold to go into administration, if necessary.
The creditor asked for anonymity to discuss a commercially sensitive matter.
The three creditors' combined demands would total nearly $200,000, according to the source.
Can GBM Gold survive and thrive?
GBM Gold is still arguably caught in a crisis that began in 2019, when Victorian mining regulator Earth Resources Regulation denied its subsidiary Kralcopic the right to mine Bendigo sites, including at Kangaroo Flat.
The regulator revoked the licences over concerns Kralcopic could not pay off debts or fund future projects around Bendigo.
GBM Gold and Kralcopic had tried to raise nearly $7 million to meet those demands but had been unsuccessful.
GBM Gold had already been struggling financially in the years leading up to the licences being revoked.
It had removed itself from trade on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2018 over concerns about capital raising.
The licensing decision effectively barred GBM Gold from making any money on the Kangaroo Flat site and its mineral-rich tailing sand previous companies did not have the technology to process.
Since 2019, GBM Gold has been delisted from the ASX under a policy that removes companies after two years of continuous suspension from trade.
The Advertiser is yet to find any recent, publicly available documents about GBM Gold's business interests.
However, GBM Gold has previously told investors it wanted to return to the ASX.
The company has previously sought out investors from Asia to back projects.
The Advertiser is also aware of a number of projects GBM Gold has pursued in central Victoria.
All were listed in an annual report of 2019 operations.
That includes at Woodvale, where GBM Gold has previously considered turning a disused mining site into a solar farm.
The company has also had a joint partnership with company Truelight Mining, which GBM described to investors as a "low-cost ore source and other explorations to bring more tenements into production".
Another GBM Gold subsidiary listed in the 2019 document - Greater Bendigo Gold Mines - still has rights to at least two nearby sites it could explore.
Rival party still in touch with creditors about a bid of its own
Meanwhile, a rival group is also telling Kralcopic's creditors it will step in if conditions are right.
The consortium had been putting together its own proposed deed of company arrangement but that idea was scrapped after the state's mining regulator declined to let representatives onto the Kangaroo Flat mining site, as previously revealed by the Advertiser.
The same group of investors has indicated it is still prepared to pay off all Kralcopic's debts, except for what GBM Gold has claimed with its subsidiary's administrators.
The consortium wants to start processing Kangaroo Flat mine tailings sand that still contains gold and other minerals, plus investigate the feasibility of mining down the site's mine portal.
It's understood the investors would want two weeks to access all of Kralcopic's old mining sites to see if the proposal was feasible.
If it is feasible, the investors would want another four weeks to secure necessary funding.
The Advertiser understands their pitch is motivated partly by a feeling they have been largely ignored by GBM Gold's board.
They say they are frustrated with past investment decisions and are not convinced GBM Gold can pay down its debts.
Regulator plans to appear at Thursday's meeting too
Mine regulator Earth Resources Regulation will be at Thursday's meeting.
Its executive director Anthony Hurst said the agency will emphasise the importance of rehabilitation, site monitoring and maintenance to "protect public safety and the environment".
"We will continue working with the administrator to finalise matters relating to Kralcopics former mine sites and the company's outstanding rehabilitation obligations," he said on Tuesday.
Those obligations include more than $500,000 in extra environmental bonds needed for the rehabilitation of Bendigo sites.
Earth Resources Regulation also still expects Kralcopic - or any new directors - to appoint a site rehabilitation manager and submit a schedule of works.
It already holds $5.9 million in environmental bonds that would be used if miners default on their rehabilitation commitments.
GBM Gold has been contacted for comment and this story will be updated with their responses.
A previous version of this story noted that GBM Gold's website had been suspended. It was updated on the evening of Thursday April 15 because the company's website could be accessed again.
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